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Thursday, 26 September 2013

What's in a name?

I have often talked about the need for law firm’s to modernise and to communicate with the public at a level that they understand and to which they can relate. 

This certainly includes the need to embrace modern technology and especially social media.

But what about names? Does the name of a law firm make any difference to their perception by the public?

Now I remember the days when the name of a firm had to include that of at least one partner. So in Liverpool there were firms with wonderfully memorable names like Shufflebottom Webster and Shields and Ernest B Kendall and Rigby. Nottingham boasted the, never to be forgotten, Rupert Bear and Co. 

American firms stick to the formal names model. The longest name that I am aware of over there is  Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf which is a mouthful by anyone’s standards!

But that rule has long since gone so that firms can call themselves what they want, within reason and respectability. Today we read that Merseyside firm CAMPS is rebranding under the name Your Legal Friend. The idea of that name, presumably, is to show the public that they are on their side. I have to say that I am not convinced. Don’t people have legal friends in pubs who give them advice on all sorts of matters? Or aren’t they the ones who get phone calls from a friend of a friend late at night asking for free advice on some obscure legal point. Time will tell.

Others have gone for imaginative titles such as Brilliant Law and Citadel Law, both of which I really like. They seem to communicate something about the quality of the work.

But does it actually matter? Will clients instruct lawyers based on a catchy name or brand? Some of the world’s leading firms have stuck with traditional titles such as Clifford Chance or Freshfields. I cannot imagine Hill Dickinson ever rebranding as ShipsRUs.

Law Firms do have to be aware of modern trends and to be commercially competitive. My LinkedIn Profile tells me that I am technically connected to 12m people which is the population of Gautemala! Should I relocate? But ultimately I suspect that most clients are more interested in the quality of the work and especially the cost. I may be wrong and would love to hear any views to the contrary.

In the meantime we are sticking to EAD Solicitors LLP which is not a catchy as some but says who we are!

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